An Open Letter to James Altucher

Hey, James. I finished Choose Yourself a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed it. I haven’t been strictly adhering to the ideas laid out in the book but the idea of choosing myself has altered my worldview.

I want to be upfront about two things.

First, I’m writing about this on my blog because it fulfills one of the conditions at the front of Choose Yourself for getting my money back. Technically it says write an honest review but I think this should count. (Also, if the by “within three months of the publication date” you mean the original one in 2013 rather than the publication date of my particular book printed at the back, I think you should take that section out of the book.)

Second, I haven’t been writing down ten ideas every day but I did have one and it was this post: could I get James Altucher to read my blog if I tweeted it at him? I guess I’ll find out.

I read self-help and life hack articles more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve even made fun of them from time to time. I read them so much that they actually start to get me down. I’ll read some new book or article about procrastination or a new way to look at your work and it will resonate with me but then, after the initial enthusiasm wears off, I go back to my old habits. The return bothers me. It has me questioning if I’m just an inherently lazy person or if I just don’t ever have it in me to do something great.

I get newsletters from Jeff Goins and Jessica Abel. I started reading this one dude Benjamin Hardy on Medium. Goins gives away great advice and I genuinely like it but he hawks his classes and products a bit too much for me to really trust him. I liked Jessica Abel’s project debt idea but since then I’ve found myself not paying as much attention. Hardy straddles the line between motivation and scolding and it often turns me off.

I also just started reading The Icarus Deception after finishing Choose Yourself because I thought it would be in the same realm and I had it on my shelf unread for years. He talks about the connection economy while you talk about the ideas economy. He says pick yourself; you say choose yourself. I find his style more a bit more disjointed and vague than yours, though.

But I’m writing to you and not them. Why? Well, in addition to the first two reasons, it’s because you talk so much about professional and personal failure. That makes you someone that I can relate to.

I guess my main question to you – with regards to the ideas laid out in your book – is what do I do now? The things I really want to work on – namely this blog, improvising, and storytelling – don’t pay any money.

The only thing that I’ve ever made a living off of is front-end web development but I’m reaching the end of my tether with it. I quit my job two years ago and I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to do it had my parents not been dead.

I’m grateful that I get to perform at all in New York City. I took a class to audition for commercials and I booked one, which was great. The only problem is it took months just to book that one and it’s just not enough income.

I’m grateful for the people who read my blog but there aren’t that many of them and the attempts I’ve made to grow my readership haven’t yielded a lot of results.

I’d like to pause here and recognize that these are some luxury problems. The chapter “What If I’m in Crisis?” dealt with someone who was in trouble. I’m not in trouble. I can get out of bed. I have food and a roof over my head. I am a fortunate person. I know that. When I hear anyone else complain about having to have a job, I roll my eyes. It sounds so whiny but here I am doing it now.

Knowing all of this, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t need some advice. I need to know specifically because there is a path to be taken between where I am and where I want to be. You wrote a chapter on it. “Let’s Get Specific: What Should I Do?” You provide examples and ideas and proof that the economy that I have come to expect is no longer to be relied upon. It seemed really geared towards someone looking to start a business. I don’t think I want to do that. So, James, what do I do?

I realize I probably won’t get an answer and I might not even really need one. I might just want to ask this out loud. I’m going to continue to do comedy and creative stuff no matter what. But I get tired trying to find other work to make money to then work on the stuff I want to work on. I guess that’s what the majority of people call regular life.

Oh, you also wanted a review of the book, right?

Your daily practice is inspiring. I’m coming around to the idea that it’s the choices we make each day to move us toward what we want that really matter. I tried no television. I really liked that. I run but I don’t do it every day. My own personal daily practice is to do morning pages as suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way (as I said, I read this stuff a lot).

Look, I’ll be honest; I’m not going to do all of them. I’m not going to stop watching TV entirely nor will I stop eating junk food or drinking alcohol entirely. In fact, I can guarantee that I will combine all three on occasion.

I liked the idea of the four bodies: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. I like the focus on general health with this and the daily practice.

My favorite chapters were “Honesty Make You More Money” and “How To Be Less Stupid,” particularly the latter. I hold on to so many petty resentments and memories of stupid things I did or said, I know that it impacts me daily. I had never seen anyone articulate that before.

I have one general question about this whole philosophy. Do you envision a world in which everyone is an independent worker? Is that even possible? Won’t clusters of collaborators naturally have to form? You’ve pointed to Sarah Blakely. She chose herself and is a billionaire. But she has employees, right? Can you choose yourself and work for someone else?

If you’ve read this, thanks. I’ll keep reading your newsletter. I bought your next book Reinvent Yourself. That one doesn’t have a refund policy, so, we’ll see if I blog about it after I finish. But I’m plugging it for my tens of readers, so, you’re welcome.

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to James Altucher

  1. I read your article abt recieving an inheritance. I too am getting a modest one, and am struggling with many feelings of guilt and unanswered questions. My father was never one to give or loan money to his children, when they found themselves in a mess in life from ppl they trusted. I was given/ loaned money on 2-3occasions, but was I told that He wasn’t a bank, and it really hurt my feelings, i couldnt and still don’t understand why my dad was so harsh at times. Now after his death im getting this inheritance and it’s making me feel like it doesn’t belong to me. Do you have any suggestions to help me?

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